8 Tips for Cleaning a Kitchen or Bathroom Sink

Sinks are the workhorses of your kitchen and bathrooms; they see a lot of action, so keeping them clean should be high on your list of home maintenance chores.

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1. Scrub that dirty sink. You’d think that with all the soap and water that flow through sinks that they’d be perpetually clean—but that’s not so. Soap deposits, food stains, rust, and water spots will all build up if you don’t stay on top of them. How often you should scrub a sink depends on how much use it gets: Scrub a bathroom sink after about 30 uses. A good recipe for a clean sink is a squirt of dishwashing liquid added to a bowl of warm water. Dip a sponge in the mixture, and scrub gently. If you want to give the sink a more thorough scrub, try an all-purpose cleaning spray or a nonabrasive cleaner.

2. Make your porcelain sparkle. Here’s a trick that will bring back the gleam to a white porcelain enamel sink. Line the sink with paper towels and soak them with bleach. Let the towels sit for 30 minutes, then discard them, and rinse the sink with running water. Don’t use bleach on colored porcelain, however, as it may cause the color to fade. Use a mild liquid detergent, vinegar, or baking soda instead.

3. Protect sinks from scratches and stains. Replacing a kitchen sink makes no small impact on your wallet. Once you’ve got a shiny new one in place, there are many easy things you can do to keep it in like-new condition:

• Install a perforated plastic mat in the bottom of your sink. This will protect the sink’s surface from scratches and mars and will protect your dishes, too.
• Don’t let fruit, vinegar, salad dressing, or other acidic foods linger on the surface of a porcelain enamel sink. Long-term exposure to acids can cause staining and could etch the surface.
• Don’t use scouring powders to clean your sink. Instead, use the warm water and dish detergent formula we describe above.

8 Tips for Cleaning a Kitchen or Bathroom Sink© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

4. Use baking soda to clean solid surfacing such as Corian. Sinks made of nonporous, acrylic-based solid surfacing are relatively stain-resistant and easy to clean. But they do need to be kept up. For routine cleaning, use soapy water or a solid-surface cleaner specially formulated for solid surfacing. Rub out stains with baking soda and water mixed to a toothpaste-like consistency. Apply the paste with a nonabrasive white scrubbing pad, and rinse thoroughly.

5. De-stain surfaces with lemon juice. We’ve got a sure remedy for stained sinks: Erase those spots with a paste made of one-half cup of powdered borax and the juice of one-half lemon. Dab a sponge in the mixture, rub, and rinse with running water—it’ll work like a charm whether your sink is made of porcelain enamel, stainless steel, or any other material.

6. Use vinegar on your lime. The white spots that you have so much trouble cleaning off the faucets are lime deposits from mineral-rich hard water. They’re very easy to remove with a secret ingredient that’s already in your pantry: vinegar. Soak a paper towel in vinegar, and wrap the towel around the spotted area. Wait 10 minutes and then buff with a dry paper towel. This works well on all fixtures except brass or colored fixtures; using vinegar on these surfaces may discolor them.

7. Rid rust with WD-40. Wipe WD-40 (lighter fluid works, too) on the spot with a cloth and then rinse thoroughly. For rust stains on porcelain enamel sinks, pour salt on half of a lemon and rub it on the stain.

8. Keep your drain free of clogs. Mix up 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of salt and 1/4 cup cream of tartar. Keep it in an airtight, childproof container. Every few weeks, pour 1/2 cup of the mixture down each drain, followed by a quart of boiling water. And of course, do your best to keep hair, soap, grease, food, and other debris out of your sink drains in the first place. Following these few steps should keep you clog-free!